It isn’t every day that Tooele and Grantsville cities see eye to eye on matters of shared community interest. So last Wednesday night was one for the history books.
Before a packed audience at Tooele City Hall, Mayor Patrick Dunlavy read a resolution that declares he and the city council adamantly oppose the possible move of the Utah State Prison to the Miller Motorsports Business Park on Sheep Lane in Erda.
Dunlavy decried the state’s Prison Relocation Commission’s site selection process as arbitrary, and said the PRC ignored its own guidelines, intentionally delayed the release of possible prison sites, and failed to consult with local officials.
He further said the prison would be a drain on the city’s resources and would deter new businesses and industries from coming here. Furthermore, “It offends me that some state and local officials want to create economic development opportunities in Draper City at the expense of Tooele City and the Tooele Valley,” he said.
Dunlavy promised that the city will deny any services to the prison should the state move forward. The council unanimously passed the resolution.
And just 12 miles away, the Grantsville City Council did likewise after Mayor Brent Marshall read excerpts from a 21-page resolution, which he said was a joint effort with Tooele City.
Marshall criticized the PRC for not contacting local officials first before evaluating, scoring and choosing the Miller property as the top site in Tooele County. He also denounced the PRC and the state’s Prison Relocation and Development Authority Board for not granting the county a seat on either committee.
Both Grantsville and Tooele cities are applauded for formally taking a stand against the prison in Tooele Valley. As the two largest municipalities in the county with a combined population of 42,000 citizens, resolutions from both cities needed to be pointed at the PRC. But unfortunately it may not be enough. The most important local governmental entity in this deal has yet to formally weigh in: the new Tooele County Commission of Myron Bateman, Wade Bitner and Shawn Milne.
We say most important, because the PRC evidently believes that a resolution passed two years ago by the previous county commission is still the county’s official position on the proposed prison move. That resolution essentially states the county supports the concept of relocating the prison to here, and looks forward to participating in the process the state will use to identify and select the relocation site.
But it could be argued the county’s resolution has not been honored by the state. Many unanswered questions remain about the “concept” of the prison’s relocation, and the state has not granted the county a participatory role to “identify and select the relocation site.”
Tooele and Grantsville cities; local state representatives Merrill Nelson and Doug Sagers; Superintendent Scott Rogers from the Tooele County School District; former county commissioner Jerry Hurst; the Tooele County Republican Party and others have publicly stated they’re against the prison at the Miller site. That list doesn’t include local citizens who oppose it, too.
To prevent further misunderstanding by the PRC, the county commission should ratify a new resolution that declares their opposition to placing the state prison on the Miller site. With the Legislature starting in 12 days, time is running out. A last-minute announcement could hurt an important opportunity to show solidarity.